One of the best parts of being a blogger is the great opportunities landing in your inbox. Who would say no to a day of fantasy with elves, orcs, magic, art, and literature? Certainly not yours truly! So in exchange for a free pass, I have promised Fantasyfestivalen a review of the day.
The idea behind the festival is to create a centre for all the fantasy afficionados in Denmark, and someday beyond, and provide opportunity for a somewhat prejudiced genre to meet their dedicated readers and find new kindred spirits. Over the weekend of 16th-17th of September, you would get the chance to hear the most famous writers from both Denmark and abroad at the public library in Esbjerg, Denmark. The honourees this year were Danish fantasy queen, Lene Kaaberbøl, and legendary John Flanagan, but they were just the top of a wonderful group of writers opening up about their books and writings this year.
I had the pleasure of attending talks with young writers Nanna Foss, Boris Hansen, Malene Sølvsten, and Mette Finderup. Nanna Foss is known for her Spektrum-series, a paranormal YA-series where a group of teenagers gain special powers and must travel through time to flee from the horror vacui – the total darkness. Foss was upbeat and bright in her field-of-flowers dress and filled out the crowded room well with talk of the difficult 3rd book just released that same day, and how she approached writing a new point of view-character very different from herself. Both new and old readers got something out of her talk, and the only thing maring her assigned slot at the festival was the library’s announcement over speakers of a change in the program – 3 times! She laughed it off and took it in good spirits but no doubt it was annoying.
Boris Hansen took the stage right after and luckily the powerpoint didn’t create trouble (as one always fears, right?). Hansen’s talk was slightly more about writing, so aspiring writers left with several great tips, and Hansen showed how his new book in his Patheon-saga fit into an overall structure and how he had attempted to give it an identity of its own. The aspiring writers could race over to Mette Finderup’s talk solely dedicated to writing and publishing – if you could find it, since the venue was not shown on the map handed out at the entrence. That was unfortunate so I believe some may have looked in vain despite this being the program change announced on the speakers earlier.
The last talk of my day was with Malene Sølvsten, an overnight success with her Ravnering chronicles, and her editor. The room was packed and they talked about everything from how they had dealt with the surpricing success and the hype surrounding Sølvsten’s books now, and how they fit into a retelling of the old Norse long-poem, the Voluspa. Sølvsten also left some great cliff-hangers and teasers making the room ache for more. Hopefully the next book will come in less than a year’s time.
In between all these and many other talks, there was a whole area dedicated to the publishers, roleplay groups, artists, animal handlers, and merchandise. The decor was great, enough to set the theme and mood but not so much as to be in the way of all the guests. Other events and things you could try at the fantasy festival were treasure hunts in the basement, owl handling outdoors, live music and medieval dances with a folk band, roleplay board and card games, drawing with the artists, trying to hold a snake or a giant spider (YUK!), book signings, and just chatting with fellow readers. Sadly, the rain was pouring down so the outside venues lacked some luster but took it in good spirits, which really seemed to be the mood of the day. In short, I had a great time discovering new authors and already look forward to next year’s festival. Hopefully, I will have a better camera by then so I can truly capture the atmosphere.